05.22.16

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Corrupting Democracy? Growing Frequency of Rumours That the EPO’s President Battistelli is ‘Buying’ Votes of Small Member States

Posted in Europe, Patents, Rumour at 12:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The best vote/ballot money can buy or just an incredible coincidence?

EU flagSummary: Several sources suggest that rather than appease the Administrative Council by taking corrective action Battistelli and his notorious ‘circle’ now work hard to remove opposition from the Administrative Council, especially where this is easier a task to accomplish (politically or economically)

THE EPO is an institution like no other institution. Even FIFA/UEFA pale in comparison to the abuses at the EPO, but since more people understand football (than complex subjects like patents) media attention has been grossly disproportionate. The media in Europe has been mostly uncooperative, apathetic and unwilling to give thought/iota/space to EPO staff’s complaints. We already wrote many hypotheses or theories about why this may be, ranging from national interests of Germany, the “better good” of the European Union, the corporate ties of large media operations, and so forth.

“Even FIFA/UEFA pale in comparison to the abuses at the EPO, but since more people understand football (than complex subjects like patents) media attention has been grossly disproportionate.”Whatever one knows about the EPO, in reality it’s probably a lot worse. I have written more than 700 articles about the EPO specifically (not just as a side issue) and the lack of intervention/involvement from authorities is truly jaw-dropping. I have never come across anything like this (having run this site for a decade).

Continuing a string of anonymous comments (as anonymous as they can be over at Google’s Blogspot), one person wrote about sanctions against EPO staff that already left the Office:

Still, imposing restrictions upon someone who is no longer an employee of the EPO is a significant step further than everything that has gone before – even the retroactive extension of the period by which an employee may be suspended before a final decision is taken on their case (or, if we are speaking bluntly, extension of the period by which an employee might be “detained without trial”!).

As I understand it, the deal that every EPO employee signed up to was that the EPO would have no claim to infringe or limit the liberty of the employee after they left the employ of the EPO. It would therefore simply be impossible for any court of an EU Member State to validate a “condition of employment” that was unilaterally imposed (i.e. without consent of the employee, or even any form of additional compensation) and that purported to limit the liberty of an individual beyond the term of the contract of employment.

I know that we are operating in Eponia here, and not the EU. Nevertheless, the fact that the above is such a blatantly unarguable point means that, even if the AC erred in rubber-stamping previous proposals, they would really have no excuse for making the same mistake on this occasion.

As another person put it, citing/highlighting the amazing behaviour of Mr. Minnoye (on public television, nothing less!):

Very true. They would have no excuse.
But if they made the mistake, who would call them to account?
Remember, they enjoy “immunity” for their actions.
Some court or tribunal might at some far distant date find the measure to be unlawful.
But even that is my no mean certain.
Do you think they will loose any sleep over such trivia?
Remember Wille Minnoye’s famous words on Netherlands television.

We have been hearing for a while, from 4 sources by now (including this from today), that Team Battistelli — seeking to protect itself from justice (people like Minnoye included) — sought to stack panels and warp the vote in the same way that DNC does it in the United States (e.g. in Nevada more recently).

Here is, once again, a claim that Battistelli “is literally buying the votes of the small countries.” We wrote about this two days ago and here it is again:

The idea that some restrictions were applicable to employees after they left the EPO has always been in the service regulations. It makes sense: the EPO is dealing with confidential matter (unpublished applications), the employees are bound to confidentiality even after they left.

All these have always existed and have always been a potential problem: confidentiality, lack of independent justice, internal sickness insurance, lack of control on spending, etc… But it has never been an acute problem because it was never systematically abused (although some limited abuse was already there). The EPO has functioned quite well for the last 30+ years.

The problem today is that someone is systematically (ab)using the regulations and even strengthening them. That is why the EPO is suddenly in the Press.

Quite frankly, I don’t see any way out. Battistelli will manage to get the council at his side, because he is literally buying the votes of the small countries. Countries with the most economic weight: Germany, France, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Swiss, etc… want him out but will be outvoted by a coalition formed by, maybe, Greece, Cyprus, Macedonia, Romania…

Whether the rumour mill is wrong or not, one sure thing is that we are hearing this from more and more separate sources, so there’s probably some level of truth to it. Recall Battistelli signing a deal with Lithuania just around the same time as the Administrative Council's meeting. Very suspicious timing, no?

“Will the delegations let the president weakening the council secretariat? Will they act upon what may be interpreted by the outside observers as basically a “power-play”?”
      –Anonymous
One source recently noted: “Last B28 [Board 28 meeting] seems to have only tackle with [sic] DG3 matters and nothing has transpired about the social situation. Only rumours concern some changes proposed by the President – this is one of his ample prerogative- in the Council secretariat. Shortly after having stated in the March resolution that a reinforcement of the Secretariat capacity and independence was a top priority, it will be an interesting to observe the next session of the AC: Will the delegations let the president weakening the council secretariat? Will they act upon what may be interpreted by the outside observers as basically a “power-play”?

Well, that would not be the first from Battistelli. Also regarding the B28 we have learned that “since January the situation of Ion and Malika [staff representation] has remained unchanged! It seems that we were left with the wrong impression that the president was in dire need of their personal Request for Review to show its benevolence. Presumably this was just a “teaser”: Today, one month after filling the “long awaited” Request for Review, NO decision has been taken yet. Presumably, one can expect a more “PR-effective” date of “release” around the next B28 or Budget and Finance Committee (24-25.05)” (that’s this coming week).

It’s easy to see the cause for angst. The angst is totally just and Battistelli’s regime is — to use a understatement — unjust. Writing in IP Kat anonymously, some people have gone poetic. One writes:

Eponia boss Battistelli
Tried moving the Boards to New Delhi
But later that evening
He went through the ceiling
When they criticised him on the telly.

Another poetic one reads:

A judge once wrote a decision
The president saw with derision.
He was removed from his post,
And given at most
A pension that no one could live on.
LC Lovegood

The poetry continued with this comment that said: “The EPO enlarges itself, becomes methodised and refined and the whole, though it takes long, stands almost complete and finished in my mind, so that I can survey it, like a fine picture or a beautiful statute that I can present to the AC at a glance” (there are some bogus ‘studies’ in the pipelines, as we noted before).

On a more serious note, one person notes:

I know some colleagues who have installed on their smartphone a backwards counter to monitor the leaving date of BB.
About two years from now.
In the mean time the work goes on. We try to survive in the mess created by this ill advised management. With shame and disgust.
Because the heart of the EPO is (still) good. Made of multi cultural, competent and very patient people. For these people, my friends, we have to maintain hope and try to save what can be saved of the working life and atmosphere at the EPO.
Unfortunately this top management is only interested in short term benefits and neither in the staff wellbeing nor the european people interest. This is sad, unwise and without any issue. But these people will not last forever. Time to rebuild will come, time for justice and intelligence.
La bêtise, l’énorme bêtise à front de taureau, will go back home forever and for a well deserved and extremely quiet, rest.

“AC creativity may cause spark,” one person noted today. “It can be excruciating when they’re rubbing two rocks together and getting again nothing. Maybe one day sitting at my desk, seeing nothing, hearing nothing, yet through the silence something throbs and gleams…a flame catches and a new era of hope sweeps through the IP world.”

“Most examiners, who are academically trained, wish to the right thing.”In our next post we shall try a more optimistic tone. We invite EPO staff to help our push for tighter EPO patent scope (no software patents), which probably also means blocking the UPC. A lot of the current so-called ‘reforms’ are due to the UPC, which tilts the whole system in favour of the rich and the powerful, and it’s obvious at whose expense and at what cost. The EPO became a battleground (or battle scene) and it’s not the fault of examiners, whose moves are largely reactionary. Most examiners, who are academically trained, wish to the right thing.

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